In our regular habit of taking a financial offering when we meet as church, whoever is at the front prays for the financial well-being of all of us and the city. We say thank you for the offering and then pray for everything else – other than the church. Let’s also be praying for the church’s financial situation – that matters just as much!
Where we’re at
In May 2017 we had an offering towards the mortgage that we share a responsibility for along with other churches across the county and amazingly, there was about £150,000 that was raised, around 10% of the debt. It’s a really significant change and we ought to be thanking God for that. Thank you to everyone who’s been wonderfully generous!
But with our ongoing running costs, our current accounts, as a church, the headline is that we’re somewhat short of what we need for our regular running costs. At the moment we’re heading towards a £30,000 gap at the end of our financial year, which is at the end of the summer.
Now, some of you will be saying, this sounds like a familiar story! I’ve been in the church for many years and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to stand up and say, “we’re short of £20,000, £30,000” and that might raise some questions as to why that’s the case.
I’m going to offer an explanation; it’s my best explanation from having an understanding of the pattern of giving and the changes that have gone on over the years. It’s not because we’re overspending, in fact, with a good finance team keeping an eagle-eye on our spending, we typically underspend on our budget every year. It’s not that; nor that we’ve stretched to do silly things that we could never have afforded and it’s not that we’ve reduced in numbers as a church. It’s none of those things.
My best understanding comes from what Jesus taught us to say in the Lord’s Prayer, when he taught us to pray about our provision. He said “Give us this day all the bread that we’ll need over the next year”… No he didn’t, he said “give us our daily bread” and in that, he was quoting from Proverbs. Proverbs 30 says this: “Two things I ask of you, Lord, keep falsehood and lies far from me and give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Only my daily bread” – and there’s an explanation in verse 9 – “otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say ‘Who is the Lord?’ or I may become poor and steal and so dishonour the name of my God.”
God enjoys keeping us in a place of being really aware of our dependence upon him. Not so much that we forget to pray, and not so little that we’d face temptation.
Over the years I’ve learned how it works with the church budgets: in years where we stretch out our faith of what we need to spend, and plan to spend that even when we’re not sure where it’s coming from, that money comes in, and from all kinds of different sources. In years where we say have lower ‘faith targets’, then not too much money comes in. It’s really testimony to the fact that God provides what we need.
And so, in having that focus on that mortgage offering, we forewent the opportunity to let everybody know that there’s also a need to pray towards the church’s ongoing running costs. And I think that what’s happened this summer, there’s not been so much praying going on for God to meet our ‘daily bread’ needs as a church.
There’s no panic – we have a God who has all the money – but we do need to pray for that gap to be met. I can pray that it would be met by the end of the week; I don’t see why it shouldn’t be. In one of these situations a few years ago, we were looking at a gap of £51,000. I remember going for a tramp across the Cotswolds, praying for God to do something because I was not feeling much peace at the time. Actually, I prayed in tongues for about three hours, which isn’t something I would commonly do, and within the week, all £51,000 had come in as gifts from people who didn’t particularly know of the issue. That works out at £17,000 per hour of prayer! If we got £17,000 for every hour we prayed, I bet we’d all pray more!
So, I want to encourage us to pray for daily bread for our church!